Tuesday, July 22, 2014

And now for something completely different

Our satellite film channel decided to hold a mini-Monty Python festival on Saturday, presumably in recognition of the comedy troupe returning to the stage after 40 years. They showed the following films
  • Eric the Viking
  • And now for something completely different
  • A fish called Wanda
  • A liar's autobiography
  • The meaning of life
Apart from "A liar's autobiography", I have seen all the others, although not for many years. I bought the book on which "Liar" is based many years ago.

I've seen "A fish called Wanda" several times and have always enjoyed it. I didn't bother watching or recording it on Saturday as I have previously recorded it.

Yesterday I watched "And now ...", which is a collage of sketches which were originally broadcast on the TV show. I'm sure that 40 years ago (1971-73), I found some of this material hilarious, but yesterday I was left totally cold. The last five minutes of the film featured some of the strongest (or most well-known) sketches - the dead parrot, the lumberjack's song and blackmail - but only the latter succeeded in raising the thinnest of smiles on my lips. The film simply wasn't funny.

Whilst it's possible that I have become what the film depicts, again in one of its final sketches, an accountant and thus per se extremely dull, I think that it's more that the material hasn't weathered well over the years. MP was a breath of fresh air at the time, with its surreal humour, general irreverence and snappy pace (cutting to a new sketch when the old one became tired, even before the punch line - or maybe there was no punch line), but now we're accustomed to these tricks. Which means that the material - as opposed to its presentation - wasn't particularly funny even then. 

I was never partial to the slapstick, such as the Ministry of Silly Walks (which thankfully didn't make the film) or the Upper Class Twit of the Year award. Maybe I was primed by reading an article in a newspaper's web site (unfortunately I can't find it now) which also didn't think much of their legacy.

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